We’ve been making these lists of Christian rap albums that are hitting milestones, (10, 20, 25 years…etc.) for a few years now. As I started to look back at the year 2011, I found that it was an insanely monumental year for CHH and even started waves that are evident in today’s CHH culture. We can look at some of the albums that are hitting that milestone, (it’s crazy, the honorable mentions are as important as the main list!) but I’d also like to point out some other happenings as well.
Lecrae – Rehab: The Overdose AND an appearance on the 2011 BET Cypher
I think most people remember Lecrae’s cypher from 2011 but sometimes this Overdose project is overlooked. Even though this album was released with mixed reviews, it still charted number 1 on the Christian Billboard and landed at number 15 on the Billboard 200 it’s first week. With the success of Rehab, I don’t think The Overdose would ever top that, but it still was a solid release that has some tracks that have stood the test of time.
Notable Tracks: Battle Song, Anger Management, Like That
Tedashii – Blacklight
Keeping the trend of success within the Reach label bubble, Tedashii released this album to chart top 10 on the Billboard rap charts, and number one overall on Billboard Christian charts. There are tons of features, and a very intentional focus on no longer living in guilt for things uncovered in life, Blacklight is the staple Tedashii album for me.
Notable Tracks: Dum Dum, Riot, Need It Daily, Last Goodbye
KB – Who Is KB?
KB released early that year with a project (his first) that showcases his versatile talent. Even some humor (see “I Can’t Play The Background”) was evident here, and made this mixtape a perfect introduction to KB.
Notable Tracks: Don’t Waste Your Life Remix, Lighter Fluid, Go
Andy Mineo – Formerly Known
2011 was the year that Reach announced the signing of Andy Mineo (fka C-Lite) at Legacy Conference. Shortly after this announcement, Andy then dropped his Formerly Known mixtape as a free download. Andy showed that even at this moment, he was willing to share a bit of his life with candor and humility.
Notable Tracks: Let There Be Light, Fool’s Gold, Michael Jackson
116 Clique – Man Up
2011 was also the year of the Man Up tour, that culminated in this compilation, along with a DVD being released. Man Up as a campaign was geared at men, and the focus was to encourage, teach, and warn. The impact of this sent ripples through CHH culture as it influenced many at a personal level.
Notable Tracks: Man Up Anthem, Envy
Derek Minor (fka PRO) – Dying To Live
Reach announced the signing of Derek to the label in January 2011, and along with releasing a video game that year, Derek also dropped a mixtape (PSA Vol. 2) as well as this full-length album, Dying To Live with a 3 part web series. Derek’s 2011 is huge for any rapper, let alone someone in the CHH space. His consistency in art and craft only spurred him on to bigger and better things afterward.
Notable Songs From Derek in 2011: Full Court Mess, Never Back Down, Have It All, Get In
Thi’sl – Beautiful Monster
Thi’sl’s album Beautiful Monster was Number 1 on iTunes Hip-Hop Charts (over Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne, Royce Da 5’9″ and Eminem’s Hell: The Sequel, and Wu-Tang’s Legendary Weapons). This is Thi’sl’s most critically acclaimed project to date.
Notable Songs: Beautiful Monster, My Radio On Drugs, Money Money Money, Signed Up To Die
Da’ T.R.U.T.H. – The Whole Truth
One of Xist Music’s signees earlier in the year, 2011 also saw the rebirth of Da’ T.R.U.T.H. After personal issues caused him to refocus on his walk with God and his relationship with his family, he released his most honest and encouraging project to date.
Notable Tracks: Impossible, God Is Good, Go Misfit Go Ft. Ambassador, Mali Music, Sean Simmonds
Sevin – Purple Reign
Sevin and Bizzle went on the MOB’n tour and kicked it off with a live stream on dasouth.com in partnership with Guerilacross Radio. Kidd, Oracle, and Ruyonga also performed. This event coincided with the release of Sevin’s 13th album release, Purple Reign, an extremely slept on and overlooked project of his.
Notable Tracks: Darkest Light, Misundastood, End Of Dayz, Sovereign, Ghetto Gospel
Bizzle – Tough Love & Parables
This one dropped and put Bizzle on the map for me. Production was airtight and his pen razor sharp. This one, paired with the tour I previously wrote of, showcased the strength of the God Over Money roster. Plus, the visual for This Ain’t Love was off the chain.
Notable Tracks: Long Time Comin, Better Way, I’m Tryin’ To Go, This Ain’t Love
Wit & Dre Murray – Hell’s Paradise II
Wit & Dre followed up their legendary landmark project Hell’s Paradise, with a sequel that is arguably as good if not better. I feel like this release and its predecessor brought a change to how artists collaborated in CHH, as well as changed the level of production across the genre. Wit and Dre Murray truly raised the bar in 2011 with some excellent hip-hop.
Notable Tracks: The Help, Choices, Dark Knight Rises, Brand New Nostalgia, The Day
Ambassador – Stop The Funeral
CHH’s Rakim – Ambassador, after signing on with Xist music in 2011, made a huge splash back into the CHH scene with this project. Stop The Funeral is his first since leaving Cross Movement Records. After dealing with moral failures of his own, this was different production than we had heard Amba on up to this point, and it fits him well. He tried to blend some R&B sounds into what he was doing, but for me, I enjoyed him just being back and rapping.
Notable Tracks: AM, Talk This Way, Put It Down, Crumbs
V.Rose – V.Rose
After being featured on Flame’s album, Captured, which was released Christmas 2010, V.Rose became the newest Clear Sight Music signee. V.Rose released her debut self-titled album summer of 2011. It is a heavy pop/party album that set the tone for the beginning of her career.
Notable Tracks: Not So Average, Battery, Forgive Me
TheBREAX – Breax Over Mixtapes 1, 2, 3
If we were to submit a “Breakout Group Of The Year” for 2011, it would have been The Breax. Not only did they release three incredible mixtapes this year, but the Breax also raised $15k to fund their first full album. The supergroup consisting of Ruslan, Beleaf, and Mic B also included a live band (Jruckers, Bam) and really made a ton of noise in the year 2011.
Notable Tracks: Welcome To The Show, Perfect Storm, 100 Hunnit, Brilliant Realness
Promise – Awakening
Promise released his third studio album, Awakening in June of 2011. A collection of songs featuring Jhene Aiko, The World Famous Tony Williams, J. Ivy, and more, Awakening won the Canadian Gospel Music Award for Album of the Year in 2012.
Notable Tracks: The Wake, Back When, Against The Odds, Down
Jai – Culture Shock
Jai had been around for a couple of years on features and at shows. She didn’t release her debut album until this year. She had a very worshipful and positive tone to her music, and also had some dope features.
Notable Tracks: Calling You, Reflection, Incredible Remix, I Love You (Human)
2011 was also the start of the record label, Humble Beast, which released Propaganda & Odd Thomas’ Art Ambidextrous and Braille’s Native Lungs, which famously started a collaboration between Braille, Odd Thomas, and Courtland Urbano thereafter, now known as the group Beautiful Eulogy.
Notable Tracks: Art Ambidextrous – Dig, The City, So Help Me
Native Lungs – Death In Me, The Hardway, Too Many Tomorrows
Canon – Blind World Mixtape
HeeSun Lee & SeDa – I’m A Christian Mixtape
JR (aka Courtney Orlando) – Murray’s Grammar: New Rules
S.O. – So It Begins
Other notable happenings in 2011:
Dee-1 toured with Pac Div, Young Dro, Killer Mike, and was an opener on Macklemore’s The Heist Tour in 2011
MaliMusic signed to Akon’s label, Konlive. Mali then premiered Job Experience album on BET and performed in 2011 at the BET Awards
Record Labels were started up and were making moves at an incredible rate in 2011 – KTE, One Route, Illect, Xist (Signed Ambassador & Da’ TRUTH), Humble Beast, Lampmode, Holy Soldier, SHOCK Muzik, NOTW Clothing was even signing artists!
DaSouth.com had a big presence at SXSW, with shows and a panel featuring – JR, Thi’sl, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., The Ambassador, Fonzworth Bentley, Ruslan, PRo, D-Maub, and Gospel Gangstaz.
It’s too much to go on in-depth about all the other fantastic music from this year, but missing from the list are debuts from L9 and Gideonz Army, as well as Jin’s CHH debut. Illect’s compilation Mind The Rap dropped this year as well as a solo project from Corey Red. D-Maub released his album Death Before Dishonor, and 2011 was also the year D-Maub & Eric Cross formed Creature Clan.
muzeOne put himself on the map with Cold War, and Jahaziel, KamBINO, and Armond Wakeup all dropped notable mixtapes. The pioneer Lil Raskull released his book Wood, Stubble and Hay. Phanatik also penned his second book that year. The first time I heard Dillon Chase was in 2011 when he dropped Weak.
There were so many more artists and events that made this a remarkably memorable year for me! 2011 was truly an incredible year for Christian rap and one that we may not see the likes of again.